Friday, May 11, 2012

High Fat Diet Dangerous for Post-Menopausal Women

Post-menopausal women whose diets are high in trans-fats are at an increased risk for strokes, according to a recent study. Data from the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study involving 80,725 women ages 50 to 79 whose general health was good, showed that over a three-year period, women with the highest intake of trans-fats suffered ischemic strokes at a 39% greater rate than those whose diets were lowest in trans-fats. Ischemic strokes occur because of blockage in the blood vessels leading to the brain. The American Heart Association reports that 137,000 Americans die from strokes each year, 60% of whom are women. Only trans-fats were found to contribute to the elevated stroke risk. The research showed no significant connection between cholesterol in the women's diets, their total fat intake or other types of fats and the increased risk.
What are Trans-Fats?
Understanding different types of fats can be confusing. We know that there are good fats, and bad fats. We've heard that animal fat is bad and vegetable oils are healthier. Now we're told that we need to avoid trans-fats. What are trans-fats, and why should we avoid them? Trans-fats do occur in small amounts in animal products, but for the most part, they're formed when vegetable oil is hydrogenated to make it more solid. Trans-fats are found in margarine and in baked goods, snack foods and processed foods made with hydrogenated vegetable oil. Created as healthier alternatives to high cholesterol products such as butter and lard, trans-fats are now seen as health risks themselves. We need to reduce consumption of trans-fats because they not only raise the level of LDL (bad cholesterol) in the body, but also lower the levels of HDL (the good cholesterol that protects against heart disease).
Go for the Good Fats!
If we are really concerned of our health, then we must start eating low fat foods. But fat is difficult to cut down because it makes our food delicious. The good news is that there are fats that are low in cholesterol but don't contain trans-fats. These are the mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated oils. Don't let the names scare you away! The mono-unsaturated oils are better known as olive oil, canola oil and peanut oil. Polyunsaturated oils are more familiar to us as corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil and flaxseed oil. The trick is to substitute these oils for animal fats and margarine or shortening when possible. We can't completely eliminate all fats. Our bodies do need some fats to function and to absorb certain vitamins, but even these healthier fats should be used sparingly.
You can avoid Trans-fats.
Always read the label. If it says, "hydrogenated vegetable oil," it means trans-fats. Use olive oil instead of margarine. Drizzle some on your vegetables; dip your bread in it. If you must use margarine, get the soft kind, not the sticks. The more solid it is, the more trans-fats it contains. Processed and convenience foods are often high in trans-fats, as are ready-made baked goods and pastries. Your best defense is being informed about the food you eat. Knowing what trans-fats are and where they're found makes it easier to avoid the risks they present